October 23, 2011
Before Sunday's over, the Peyton Manning(notes)-less Indianapolis Colts are likely to be 0-7, as they face the Saints in the Sunday night national game. Being 0-7 is not good, but as it turns out, 2011 is a pretty good year to be terrible. Being that bad makes the Colts one of the leading contenders to draft Andrew Luck, the can't-miss quarterback prospect out of Stanford, first overall in next year's draft.
If things did go down that way, the Colts would have something of a dilemma at the quarterback position. In Luck, they'd have one of the best quarterback prospects in a decade or two. But Peyton Manning plans on returning, too, and he just happens to be a Colts icon and arguably, the best quarterback of all-time.
What should the Colts do in that case? According to Tony Dungy, former Colts head coach and current NBC analyst, they should trade Peyton Manning.
"I would see [Peyton] competing and playing as long as he wanted. And if it gets to the point to where, hey, he comes back and it looks like he's gonna play three or four more years, and you say, 'We've got Andrew Luck, we've got an asset, we trade [Peyton]. I think that asset is too much to pass up, even if your quarterback wasn't all that happy about it."
That's about the last thing I'd have expected Dungy to say, but say it he did on the Dan Patrick show. Dungy coached Manning for seven years, and Manning is the biggest reason that Dungy has a Super Bowl ring. It's a little shocking to hear that he'd be so willing to just ship Manning out of town for a couple of draft picks.
There are a ton of things that would have to happen before we even got to such a conversation -- the Colts getting the first pick, drafting Luck, Manning throwing a fit about it (which is maybe the most unlikely thing), etc. Add in all the questions about Manning's health, which at this moment, still appears to be some kind of House-like medical mystery. It's a little silly to even have this conversation. Let's indulge it, though.
I don't know how you'd trade Peyton Manning. He's as intertwined with the Colts franchise as any athlete ever has been with any franchise. And not just that, but we're seeing right now exactly how valuable Manning is as a player -- without him, the Colts disintegrate. And if the Colts did, for some reason, want to play Luck immediately, what better situation could there be for a young quarterback than learning under Peyton Manning?
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